There’s an app for that

By Nathan Whatley

These days, there seems to be a smartphone application for just about anything. Want to track the distance of a golf shot? There’s an app for that. Can’t remember the title of that song playing on the radio? There’s an app for that. Need to transform your phone into an instant flashlight? There’s even an app for that.

Even the Department of Labor has gotten into the game. Employers, take notice.

The DOL-Timesheet app for certain smartphone models allows nonsalaried workers to record their regular work hours, break time and overtime hours and calculate the amount likely to be owed by the employer. While the application does not address every possible wage-and-hour situation – for example, tips, commissions, bonuses, deductions, holiday pay and pay for weekends, shift differentials and regular days of rest are not included – the DOL plans to update the app for these scenarios.

The app also provides users with prompts that include snippets of wage-and-hour law. For example, if an employee enters an hourly wage below the federal minimum wage, a pop-up alert will appear that provides a brief explanation of federal minimum-wage law. The app also has active links to DOL phone numbers so employees with questions can contact the agency with just a tap of the phone screen.

For employers, the release of the DOL-Timesheet app appears to be another step in the agency’s increasingly aggressive efforts to assist in the investigation and enforcement of wage-and-hour regulations. The DOL’s Bridge to Justice program was one major step. This app, which records information the agency says could prove invaluable during a Wage and Hour Division investigation when an employer has failed to maintain accurate employment records, is seen as a valuable tool to greatly enhance the DOL’s evidence-gathering abilities.

The new DOL app highlights the need for employers to keep accurate time and payroll records for employees. Until now, employees typically contested the records maintained by their employer with nothing more than their own opinions and recollections. The new app will likely enable employees to challenge the calculation of their pay with detailed records and notes. Now is the time for employers to get their houses in order when it comes to tracking work time and calculating overtime.

This article appeared in the September 29, 2011, issue of The Journal Record. It is reproduced with permission from the publisher. © The Journal Record Publishing Co.